It didn’t take the Payson Longhorn golf team long to leap directly into the heat of the 3A conference’s fiercest competition.
It all began March 3 at Snowflake Golf Course where the Longhorns clashed with the homestanding Lobos in a matchup of the two teams that finished one-two in the 2009 state championship tournament.
In that gold medal clash, which was played on the par 72 Poston Butte course, Snowflake finished at 595 to claim the title over the 15-team field. Payson posted a 652 to take the silver.
In the 2010 season opener, Snowflake again flexed its collective muscle with a first-place card of 311. Payson played to second at 352.
Trailing were Show Low (384), Blue Ridge (398), Winslow (401), and Holbrook (429).
The Lobos’ and Horns’ finishes in the tournament could be an indication the two rivals will once again battle for East region and state honors.
However, there are others — mainly Safford, Sedona and Fountain Hills — hoping to ambush both Snowflake and Payson.
Individually in Lobo land, two-time defending state champion, Kyle Jones of Snowflake, was low medalist, finishing with a sizzling 75 on the par 72 course.
For Payson, Jeffrey Kelley led with an 85.
Tyler Apps finished at 86 and Mason Dacanay had an 87.
In the 2009 state tournament, Apps finished eighth and Dacanay was 29th.
Rounding out Payson’s card in Snowflake was a 94 from Alex Korth.
The Longhorns return to Snowflake tomorrow, March 13, to participate in the 18-hole Schneider Cup. The Horns have just two home meets this season — March 23 and April 5 at Chaparral Pines. Both are nine-hole tournaments.